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John Auchter

Editorial Cartoonist

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganRadio.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com. 

In addition to cartoons and essays for Michigan Radio, John works as a technical communication specialist. He has worked for a variety companies, from startups to large corporations, and has operated his own business. The job basically is the same as cartooning — putting words and images together to communicate. But in this case, John knows enough not to draw funny pictures of his boss or client. (Well, now he does.) 

John grew up on the east side of the state near Flint, graduated from Michigan Tech in da UP, and has lived in West Michigan since. He vacations Up North every summer and shovels lots of snow every winter. After his wife, he is the biggest Tigers fan in the family. He drinks Vernors when his tummy hurts.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

A few years ago, an episode of the TV sitcom "Parks and Recreation" featured a character named Congressman Dave Murray. He was a handsome, congenial politician who would perform perfectly everything his handlers asked of him — without question and without controversy.

Even better, when he wasn't shaking hands or talking into a camera, he'd go off into a room and sit staring off into the distance waiting for his next assignment. The regular characters (who were from the Midwest) were aghast. But the congressman's Washington DC advisors didn't care if he might in fact be a robot; he was the perfect political candidate. I thought it was a brilliant piece of political satire.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The cartoon wasn't necessarily meant as an indictment of Michigan (although our embarrassing weaknesses in education and public transportation will likely prevent us from winning the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes). It was meant as an indictment of the United States as a whole.

Now, before I end up in a stump speech for some publicity-grubbing pop star running (or not running) for Senate, let me say some nice things about America. America is great. America has vast resources. America is very wealthy. America has lots of talent.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

If you've read the cartoon, you've already seen enough of my words. So I only have three quick observations to add here:

John Auchter

Labor Day is Monday, which of course begs the question: What side is it on?

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I struggled with how exactly to draw a gerrymander statue. My initial instinct was to draw it as an abstract monster because that's where the term came from. In 1812 a Governor Gerry in Massachusetts signed a bill to redistrict his state to benefit his political party. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I am on vacation this week. (I drew this cartoon last week, Friday.)

I tried to anticipate how I would feel at this point. It was easy to predict (and poke fun at) my selfish self -- that despite whatever terrible events were going on around the world, nation, and state, the thing I'd likely find most frightening was the end of summer.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I've been observing this game of Michigan politics long enough now that I can definitely detect patterns. 

cartoon of trump on ladder giving James McCloughan medal of honor
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

On Monday, July 31, former Army medic and Vietnam War veteran James McCloughan was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the president at a White House ceremony.

His story is breathtaking. In 1969, during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill, McCloughan's company came under heavy fire and was in full retreat. As his fellow soldiers ran for cover, McCloughan was consistently moving in the opposite direction and into harm's way to collect the wounded and bring them to safety. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

This week's cartoon is an open question to my fellow Christians. It's not intended to exclude non-Christians — you're certainly welcome to ponder it, too. It's just that I've never committed myself to a non-Christian faith or philosophy, so I wouldn't presume to have the qualifications. Whereas I've been an active, practicing Roman Catholic all my life.

Dan Auchter / Michigan Radio

If you need some perspective for this health care madness, reporter and author T.R. Reid is a pretty good place to start. Reid is an American but has lived overseas (Japan and the UK) and also has first-hand experience with seeking medical services in multiple countries as part of his work.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

We've all been caught in the grinder — whether it's government (the IRS saying you owe money for a property you never owned), business (the cable company charging you for a box you returned in 1997), or even a well meaning non-profit (you accidentally getting signed up with Pups That Poop —  a canine rescue for large dogs with bowel control issues — who now contact you every day to insist a Great Dane named Balthazar would be perfect for you and your studio apartment).

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

For those of you who despair over the coarsening of political discussion and wring your hands over what social media hath wrought, I offer you ... no disagreement. But maybe a little perspective.

John Auchter

Ideas for cartoons can come from the oddest places.

This past Sunday, I was working on setting up our hammock in the backyard for the summer season and went down to the basement to collect the pieces. 

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

Artist's POV: Last week the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill to allow most gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. 

John Auchter
Auchtoon.com

Artist's POV: The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan is an organization that serves as a go-to resource for mental health awareness and education. A special area of focus is teen suicide prevention, which it addresses through an anti-bullying initiative called "be nice."

Auchter's Art: Slashing Budgets
JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

My wife and I have a Japanese maple we planted several years ago in our yard. It's been a nice little tree — generally healthy, somewhat sturdy (our cats like to climb to the top and pretend they're vultures), but it's never really grown. 

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Freedom is essential for a happy life and true success. I don't think most would argue with that. But like most good things, freedom can be appropriated for self-serving purposes.

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

My inner dialogue for this week's cartoon —

Rational Me (RE): Let's please do something without Donald Trump in it. There's just so much going on with him right now, our cartoon might just get lost in the news swirl.

Emotional Me (EM): Absolutely. I'm on overload with that <redacted> and besides drawing him kinda make us queasy.

Auchter's Art: Benefits Race to the Bottom
JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Ugh! This again! So earlier this week the story broke that Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Speaker of the House Tom Leonard were making cuts to teacher retirement benefits a top priority in the state budget. Specifically, they want to transfer what is now a state-backed pension into a 401k plan for new hires.

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Nothing Donald Trump does should surprise anybody. His behavior is erratic, certainly, but highly predictable. 

He has spent a lifetime demonstrating in a very public way that acting in his own self-interest is his default mode, his plan B, his alternate route, his "upon further consideration," and so on. Look it up — it's right there in his books, his shows, and his copious media coverage.

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

ARTIST'S POV: After three years of the Flint water crisis, fatigue has set in — first and foremost, for the citizens of Flint who have had to live with the daily grind and persistent worries. But also for Michiganders living outside and looking in. 

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

ARTIST'S POV: Back in high school, one of my friends had an older sister who spent a summer on Isle Royale doing research. She made the mistake of trying to have a conversation about this with a bunch of 16 year-old boys.

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

ARTIST'S POV: Legislation was recently introduced in the state House to make Michigan a "constitutional carry" state. House Bills 4416-4419 would relax gun laws to allow many Michiganders to conceal firearms without having to get a concealed pistol license. It's kind of a melding of concealed carry with less restrictive open carry rules.

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

We're nearing the end of the season of Lent, and for Catholics (and others who participate in the Lenten practice of "giving up stuff") this is around the time we tend to lose focus and start to obsess about the beer or chocolate or whatever we pledged to eschew for 40 days.

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

Artist's POV: As I'm sure Red Wings fans are keenly aware, there will be no Detroit hockey club in the NHL playoffs this year.

John Auchter / Achtoon.com

ARTIST'S POV: When I was a kid I remember seeing a "man on the street" segment on TV interviewing people about the value of seat belts. 

Auchter's Art

Mar 17, 2017
John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

Artist's POV: Have you ever had to endure an interview for a job you knew you were not going to get, or an audition for a part you were certain was going to somebody else? You had absolutely no chance but you were obligated to go through the motions.

John Auchter / auchtoon.com

ARTISTS POV: The one clear positive from President Trump's proposed budget: It's bringing Michiganders closer together. The budget proposal the White House sent to Congress last week suggests cutting the budget of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million per year to $10 million per year.

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Probably the easiest way for editorial cartoonists to get readers on their side is to make a general target of politicians.

You know, not really saying anything, but instead depending on people's recognition of the stereotype to do all the work — kind of like a hack standup comedian:

"And hey, what's up with those politicians? Have you seen these guys? They're killing me with their this and their that. Who's with me?! Am I right?!"

I do my best to avoid that.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Are you guys exhausted? I know I am.

I don't know that I can continue to maintain this level of political outrage. I mean, I draw editorial cartoons, so political outrage is something of a default mode. But lately — especially this past month — it's been like drinking from a fire hose. There is just so much to be relentlessly outraged about.

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